HOT SCALE (1-10): 10
For those of you who know me, you may think I’m partial to this story because Wade Belak use to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs, and you wouldn’t be entirely wrong in assuming so. Sadly, Belak was found dead in a Toronto hotel yesterday. He is now the third NHL enforcer/tough guy to have died since May along with Winnipeg Jets’ Rick Rypien and former New York Rangers Derek Boogard.
“We’re talking about such a short period of time,” Craig Button, who was the general manager of the Flames when Belak played there early in his career, told The Canadian Press. “It’s not only about the deaths, it’s the deaths that surround similar type players. … It’s not just getting hit in the head, it’s everything that goes with that (enforcer) role. I think that people are paying very, very serious attention to concussions and blows to the head and the role of the enforcer.
“I don’t think anybody can stop until we really understand the impact it has not only physically but emotionally as well,” Button said.
Read the full ESPN article here.
Both the NHL and NFL have changed their rules regarding hits to the head much to the dismay of “purists” of their respective sport, but there is an undeniable correlation between hits to the head and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
Sideny Crosby, arguably the best player in the league, is still recovering after what appeared to be multiple concussions suffered days apart in January. Crosby’s return is still unclear (as well as if he will be the same player he once was), but one thing is certain; the NHL is taking these deaths seriously, and maybe it’s time we as fans do the same.
We may soon find ourselves with a generation of athletes we adored suffering from brain injuries, or worse, dead.
Thank you to Frederick Breedon/AP for the Wade Belak Image